Oct 15th, 2017, 07:18 PM

Respecting the Office, But Not the Man Who Occupies It

By Eboni NiCole
Image Credit:Flickr/Justin Starr
Balancing criticism and respect in American political culture.

For my entire life (I was born in 1984), I have never heard of an American president with a 100 percent approval rating. A hard lesson I learned early is that not everyone is going to like you. And the fact is, not everyone likes the current U.S. president.

But at what point does voicing your dislike for the person who holds the title of president, become disrespecting the office of the president? 

Well, if you’re a conservative, anything negative said about Donald Trump qualifies as disrespecting his position, according to Sean Hannity. If a liberal were in office, the liberal base would probably have the same sentiments. I purposely refrain from using the 44th United States President, aka President Barack Obama, as an example because he as a person and his position while in office were disrespected often. Just Google any conservative segment from the past eight years. 

While President Trump already has his fair share of critics, the latest celebrity to enter the anti-Trump arena is none other than rapper Eminem. Last Tuesday, the Detroit native delivered a scathing four and a half minute cypher that was aired during the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Hip-Hop Awards. 

Eminem Rips Donald Trump In BET Hip Hop Awards Freestyle Cypher

Eminem Rips Donald Trump In BET Hip Hop Awards Freestyle Cypher. YouTube/BETNetworks

Eminem told the world, and Trump, how he felt about the relief efforts for Puerto Rico, Colin Kaepernick and the National Football League national anthem controversy, immigration, the recent Nevada shooting, his fans who support Trump, and many other political and social justice issues. In the freestyle, he does call Trump a b---h, and ends the video yelling, “We f------ hate Trump.” But look, how many celebrities have vocally expressed an “f---- you” message towards Trump? Plenty! Eminem joins Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, YG, and many more who use their lyricism to start an open discussion about economic and social inequalities that are happening under this administration. Although Trump wasn’t in office when YG released “FDT,” the rapper has publicly said that he’s received threats from Secret Service.

In November, AminĂ© pulled a Kanye West while performing his his hit-single “Caroline” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to express how he felt about the election results. And speaking of Kanye West, who can forget his 2005 on-air outburst when he blurted out, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” He was vilified by conservatives and mainstream media for disrespecting then President George W. Bush. 

Image Credit:Flickr/Fee World Order

Remember the Dixie Chicks? While in concert, Natalie Maines, the trio’s lead singer, said that they were “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” We all know how costly that statement was for the band, but did it disrespect the office of the presidency? No!

Though the remarks and lyrics from the above mentioned are indeed highly critical of the person in office, they are far from disrespecting the office itself. That said, I am on the fence with “f--- Trump” ("FTD") messages. Though I understand where the frustrations and raw emotions are coming from, it does make me cringe when I hear it. Some might argue that “FDT” and “f--- the president of the United States” are two completely different statements, but I beg to differ.

Trump praises response to Puerto Rico, says crisis straining budget. Image Credit:Flickr/BipHoo Company

While I wholeheartedly believe that Trump has done nothing to earn respect from the American people and that he himself disrespects the office constantly (i.e. throwing paper towels to those affected by Maria in Puerto Rico), "FDT" messages are where the line is crossed for me. I’m not even mad at Eminem calling Trump a b----, because Trump has called NFL players far worse than that. And the fact is, Trump has disrespected just about every marginalized group in America, which speaks to his character as a man. But even though I don’t think highly of him as a man, I could never openly say "FDT" or anything along those lines in a public space.

We should all remember that disagreeing on political and social issues is not the same as disrespecting the man in office and is not the same as disrespecting the office of the presidency itself. Trump has sadly divided America into us (the rest of the United States) vs. them (Trump Administration and his supporters), and stating the facts or voicing disgust for this administration is not disrespecting the office. But "FDT" messages are, and though freedom of speech is your constitutional right, sometimes it is better to bite your tongue.

I know, the current president makes it hard for people to show him an ounce of respect or dignity, especially seeing how he obstinately refuses it to many in 140 character increments at a time, but you can be the bigger person. Be the better person. Say all you want about the man in the oval office, but do so with respect to the presidency.